Crusaders bring in controversial wing
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has named his team to face the Chiefs at home this Saturday, including a number of changes and two Super Rugby debutants.
In the forwards, Owen Franks and Matt Todd will be rested this week, and Michael Alaalatoa and Billy Harmon will start. George Bower could earn his first Super Rugby cap if called on to replace Alaalatoa at tighthead prop.
In the second row, Mitch Dunshea has earned his first start of the season and will partner Scott Barrett at lock. The final change in the loose forwards will see Jordan Taufua start on the blindside.
In the backs, Ereatara Enari has earned his first Super Rugby start at scrumhalf. Braydon Ennor moves to the left wing and Sevu Reece will also make his debut on the right wing.
Reece, a former Waikato wing, joined the Crusaders after losing his contract with Pro14 Irish side Connacht.
The Fijian signed a two-year deal with Connacht in May last year and was due to arrive in Ireland in November.
However, following Reece’s court case where he admitted guilt for domestic abuse has prompted the Pro14 team and IRFU to cancel the contract.
Meanhwile, Ryan Crotty returns this week to start at inside cetre and will also captain the side in the absence of Matt Todd. Whetukamokamo Douglas and the returning Codie Taylor have been named as vice-captains.
On the reserves bench, Ethan Blackadder will provide loose forward cover and Brett Cameron joins the side this week, replacing Mitch Hunt who was concussed in last week’s match against the Reds.
Crusaders: 15 Will Jordan, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty (captain), 11 Braydon Ennor, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Ere Enari, 8 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Mitchell Dunshea, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Harry Allan, 18 George Bower, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Ethan Blackadder, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Brett Cameron, 23 David Havili.
Date: Saturday, March 9
Venue: Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch
Venue: 17.15 (04.15 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy (Australia), Nick Hogan (New Zealand)
TMO: Shane McDermott (New Zealand)